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Kirkstall Brewery consists of several Grade II listed buildings. These buildings are situated on either side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. On one of the buildings on the west side of the canal (The Warehouse) it is possible to see the doors just above the water level that were used to load barrels of beer onto barges.
The Kirkstall Brewery Co Ltd was registered in 1871, and by 1898 the brewery was producing around 72,000 barrels of beer a year. The beer was sold in Leeds, Yorkshire and beyond.
In 1936 Dutton’s Blackburn Brewery Ltd purchased Kirkstall Brewery Co Ltd. and its subsidiaries, Albion Brewery (Leeds) Ltd and Willow Brewery Co. Ltd.
In 1938 the Company was renamed Dutton’s Lancashire & Yorkshire Brewery Corporation Ltd.
Duttons in turn was bought by Whitbread in 1957. Kirkstall Brewery was re-equipped, and the production of bitter and mild went up to quarter of a million barrels a year. The brewery was closed in 1983, bringing to an end a 150-year tradition of brewing in the Kirkstall Valley.
Kirkstall Brewery stood empty and unused for several years until it was given a new lease of life in the late 1990s with an ambitious project to create Kirkstall Brewery Student Village. This project was undertaken by Leeds Metropolitan University. The development provides accommodation for over 1,000 students. Other facilities include an events hall, pool/snooker room, laundry and car parking facilities for a small number of vehicles. Facilities which exist onsite but are not currently usable by residents include a Students' Union bar, a cafe, a shop and a gymnasium.
A new brewery with the same name has been set up close to the original site. http://www.kirkstallbrewerycompany.com/
The renovation project was a challenging one; the springs and watercourses that provided the water used in the brewing process had to be diverted without damaging the unique ecosystem that is a recognized Site of Special Scientific Interest.
During renovation it was discovered that a Second World War submarine engine was installed at the brewery as a power back-up facility. This engine was one of a pair built in 1943 for submarine duties but was never actually installed in a submarine. It was sold after the Second World War (1948) to the brewery for power generation. Although it is the size of a Ford Transit van it was carefully removed and now resides at the Anson Engine Museum in Poynton, Cheshire, United Kingdom where it is undergoing restoration. Photograph's and progress of the engine can be found here : http://www.enginemuseum.org
Kirkstall Brewery Student Village won the City of Leeds Award for Architecture in 1997.